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30 September 2014

Civil War Era Federal Taxes

If you don't find your ancestor as having paid an income tax in the Internal Revenue Assessment Lists for 1862-1866, don't be surprised. The annual income necessary to pay the tax was $600. There were taxes on a variety of other items as discussed briefly in the National Archives finding aid to these materials here on FamilySearch.

29 September 2014

Children's Civil War Pension

Do you have a relative with minor who died in the US Civil War while fighting for the Union? Records of that child's pension based upon the father's service can provide significant information on the child which may include date of birth, name of mother, and other key information.

The children's pension would only have been received by the child while he or she was a minor, but the application and documentation could be key to your research.

Our Sponsor GenealogyBank

Genealogy Tip of the Day is proudly sponsored by GenealogyBank . We thank them for their continued support. They are offering an annual subscription at a price that works out to $4.67 a month. I use my GenealogyBank subscription daily

28 September 2014

Giving Credit

Do you give credit to others who have helped you with your research--perhaps someone shared information with you, gave you valuable research suggestions, or shared family ephemera with you? It's the right thing to do and it makes these individuals more likely to help or share with you in the future. 

27 September 2014

Do You Look for a Deed After the Widow Dies?

One of my ancestors died in Maryland in 1817 leaving some real property to his wife. It dawned on me today while looking for information on other family in the same area that I should look for some sort of quit claim deed executed by her heirs after her death. There may not have been a probate, but her heirs may have quit claimed the property after she died.

Meyers-Orts Webinar Released

We've just finished processing the recording on my presentation the Meyers Orts gazetteer. It's aimed at those who have been hesitant to use this finding aid to 19th and 20th century German places because of the language and the type.
Meyers-Orts entry for Wiesens.
 Image courtesy of Ancestry.com 

Our approach is down-to-earth and hands-on. We don't expect you to learn German to use this gazetteer, but we will show you how to find out where the local post office was--and the nearby church and other villages.

The presentation can be ordered here--download is immediate.

26 September 2014

Was It the Start or the Finish?

A newspaper may mention that your ancestor's divorce was being heard at the current term of the court. Do not necessarily conclude that they were divorced. Just because the divorce was filed or proceedings had begun does not mean the process was completed and the couple actually divorced. 

There are other times where a notice that something is going to happen does necessarily mean that it will happen. 

Sort of like how not everyone who gets a marriage license gets married either.

25 September 2014

Do You Read All Those Estate Receipts?

Reading through estate accountings can be boring at times. However, one never knows when a comment about a bill or account balance will be genealogically significant. One 1880 era estate settlement contained a reference to a doctor bill for "attendance at birth of child." 

There was no name or gender listed, but at least it confirmed the birth. 

24 September 2014

My "Now Wife" Doesn't Mean There Were Two

If a male relative uses the phrase "my now wife" in his will, it does not necessarily mean that he was married more than once. A will may indicate that property is only to go to the wife at time the will was written. Frequently the phrase is used so that if for some reason the will signer's current wife dies and he marries again, the subsequent wife does not inherit the property in question.

Often this is done to guarantee the property goes to the first wife or the children the testator has with her instead of a second wife and her children (who may not be children of the testator).

23 September 2014

The Vague Nature of Relationships

In some families, it can be difficult to remember exactly how someone is related. When you are analyzing statements made by someone you have interviewed, keep in mind that your informant may have gotten confused about which grandparent a certain neighbor was related to, whether the relationship was by birth or by marriage, or whether it was the husband or wife in a certain family who was the actual "relative."

22 September 2014

Are They Dependent?

Always contemplate the probable informant on any record or document you obtain. You may have five different documents that indicate Riley Rampley was born in 1835 in Coshocton County, Ohio, but if those different documents all had the same probable informant, you have "different" documents that were all dependent on the same person.

In which case they really may not be as different as you think.

21 September 2014

Settled Where the Wagon Broke Down

Is it possible that your migrating relatives simply settled someplace that was "on the way to where they were actually going?" While "settling where the wagon died" sometimes is used as a joke, there can be some truth to it. It might not have been the wagon that died, but the death of a parent on the "way to somewhere else," may have caused the family to put down roots where they did not intend to--and where they didn't have any family or connections.

20 September 2014

Do You Look For Context?

No event happens in a vacuum.

For years, I knew my great-grandparents move from the church to a half mile away to one six miles away was due to the them wanting their children to learn English. When I reviewed the christening places of their children, I realized that my great-grandparents probably waited to leave the nearby church until his father had died.

Do you always try and put events into the life chronologies of your ancestor's relatives?

19 September 2014

Did Grandma Translate Those Names?

My relative wrote a letter to one of her in-laws in the 1880s. I thought originally that the only people to whom she was referring were fellow German immigrants. After all, everyone in the letter had German names. It took me a little while to figure out that my relative had translated the "English" names into German when writing the letter. Many of the people she wrote about were not German at all.

18 September 2014

One Document Is Not Necessarily Proof

Genealogists usually do not say that one document is "proof." One document provides information and a "proof" is usually an analysis of that document and what it says (which can be short and to the point--your discussion of why you think a record is correct does not need to be overly long).

Even if you don't write proof arguments for every genealogical statement you make (and many people don't), remember that one document may not totally make your case--it can be incorrect. But make certain that you have a source for statements that you make--so that others can see where you obtained a certain fact and so that you can review it as well if needed.

17 September 2014

Manual Search the Census on Non-Name Columns

If you "know" where an ancestor should be living in post-1840 United States census and can't find their name easily, try searching the place of birth column for locations that match the probable place of birth. This won't work for someone living in Ohio born in Ohio, but in rural areas if the person was born somewhere outside the area where he or she lived, it may help you to locate the person of interest.

16 September 2014

Neighbors in Another Census

Years ago I spent some time trying to find my relative in the 1840 census, using indexes and manual searches of the county where I thought he was. No luck.

Then I went back and searched for his 1830 neighbors in the 1840 census and looked very closely at the other names on the pages where they were listed in 1840. There was a name that was his--written in a way that was difficult to read with a name that was spelled incorrectly. I'd probably seen it before, but until I knew that I was in  "his neighborhood" I didn't look at the entry as closely as I should have.

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15 September 2014

Not Everyone Has One

Some people simply don't leave certain types of records. I have a relative who died in the last ten years for whom there is no death notice, no obituary, and no estate settlement (despite having children and grandchildren and sufficient personal property). Some people live as husband and wife and never actually "get married," so there is no "marriage record." Others avoid the census taker at one or more times in their lives. Sometimes it is worth contemplating that the record for which you are looking simply does not exist.

Because some people for a variety of reasons choose to leave no records behind of certain events. 

14 September 2014

Manual Searches of Indexed Records?

If you are fairly certain someone should be in a certain place for a specific census year and you cannot find him in the census index, search manually by reading the portion of the census for that locality.

Names sometimes get indexed incorrectly, transcribed wrong, and written in way that cannot be easily read or interpreted.

And you may discover some additional relatives as well.

13 September 2014

Female's Name at the Time

Records on female relatives in most areas of the United States will use the name they had at the time the record was created. If you can't find a female relative in a place and time where you expect to, is it possible they had a marriage you are not aware of?

12 September 2014

Ethnic, Religious and Other "Non-Typical" Newspapers?

Is your ancestor's obituary or writeup hiding in an ethnic (often in a foreign language), religious, trade, or other "non-typical" newspaper? Obituaries for immigrant ancestors may be more detailed in a local foreign language newspaper, and a notice in a religious or trade periodical may provide information not given in the local newspaper. Local libraries, historical or genealogical societies may be able to provide information about newspapers of this type.

11 September 2014

Need Those US Census Questions?

Interpreting US Census enumerations is sometimes easier if one has a list of the questions that were asked during the enumeration. This page on the US Census Bureau website has a list of all questions asked in census records from 1790-2010.

10 September 2014

What Does It Really Mean?

Try and avoid reading clues into a document that are not supported by the actual item.  A recent posting on Rootdig mentioned how an address on a post card doesn't mean the address was actually correct. A witness on a document doesn't have to be related to the person signing the document. Just because a person dies in a certain location doesn't mean they lived there very long.

Think about what you have assumed from a document.

Are all of those assumptions valid?

09 September 2014

Derivative Citizenship

If your immigrant ancestor has a "derivative" citizenship, then what likely happened is that they were a minor when their father naturalized or they became a citizen upon their marriage to a man who was already a citizen.

Naturalization law is complex and slightly confusing, but if your immigrant ancestor indicates in a census or other record that he was naturalized and you cannot find a record of his or her naturalization, consider the possibility that they obtained citizenship status through the father's naturalization or their marriage.

And naturalization law and procedure has changed over time--make certain you know what the law and procedure was at the time your ancestor was alive and naturalized.

Of course, like everything else...there are exceptions. 

Primary May Not Be Good and Secondary May Not Be Bad

Primary information is typically defined as information that was provided by someone who had first hand knowledge of the information. Secondary information is typically everything else. I can provide primary information about my date and place of marriage and secondary information about my date and place of birth as my knowledge of the marriage is because I was an adult when it happened and hopefully was aware that it was taking place.

My knowledge of my birth is because I've read it somewhere and have been told it.

Just because information is primary does not mean it is correct--I could have my anniversary wrong. And just because information is secondary does not mean it is wrong.

The correctness of information has more to do than whether it is primary or secondary.

07 September 2014

What Records Could Answer That Question?

Think about what you piece of information you would like to know about your ancestor and then think about what records may contain that information, either directly or indirectly. When brainstorming don't worry about whether the sources are original or derivative or whether the information is primary or secondary. Just think about what sources you should try and access.

The analysis can come after you actually find something. 

06 September 2014

Is That First Letter Optional?

Some last names have initial letters that are silent and occasionally get left off records. "Hanson" can be written as "Anson," Knight" as "Night," etc.

Could your ancestor's name be missing a first letter?

05 September 2014

Hiding Before 1850

Older family members may be "hiding" in pre-1850 United States census records in the household of a child.  Only heads of household are named in pre-1850 census records and Grandma, Grandpa, or both may be living with a child and only appear as a tick mark indicating an older adult.

04 September 2014

Name Change--No Paperwork

In some locations and time periods, it was relatively easy to "start over" with a new name, particularly if a person moved to a new location. Some individuals went through the legal process of changing their name, but many others did not. In the 20th century this was not always as easy to do as it was in the 19th century and before.

03 September 2014

That Youngest Child?

If there is significant gap between your ancestor's "last" child and the one before that, consider that the mother could have had several miscarriages, the last child could have been a "surprise" or that the last child could have actually been a grandchild.

2015 Carl Sandburg Institute of Genealogy

Michael John Neill of Genealogy Tip of the Day is involved in this project, so we're posting this notice here for those who may be interested. Those interested in further updates should use the contact methods listed below to learn more as details are announced. Mark your calendars.

From 28 May through 1 June 2015 the first Carl Sandburg Institute of Genealogy will be held at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Four tracks of study over 4.5 days are scheduled. Nationally-known genealogical-research experts will present the following tracks:
     Refining Internet and Digital Skills for Genealogy
(coordinator Cyndi Ingle of CyndisList)
     Advanced Methodology and Analysis
(coordinator Michael John Neill of Genealogy Tip of the Day),
     The Advancing Genealogist: Research Standards, Tools, and Records
(coordinator Debbie Mieszala, CGSM),
     Germanic Research Sources and Methods
(coordinator Teresa McMillin, CGSM).

Getting to Galesburg is easy. Galesburg is:
     located on Interstate 74,
     one hour from Moline or Peoria airports,
     two hours from Springfield, and
     has four daily Amtrak trains from Chicago (and direct routes from many locations including Denver, Omaha, Kansas City, and Salt Lake City).
Registration opens in September and will be announced on the website (www.sandburggenealogy.com) and on social media, including the CSIG Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sandburggenealogy). Email Michael John Neill at mneill@sandburg.edu to be added to mailing list for announcements. Hotel and meal plan information is forthcoming.
Carl Sandburg College is located in the heart of the Midwest and has received national accolades for its innovative use of technology and state of the art instructional facilities.

CG or Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

02 September 2014

Name Split in Half?

Are there any of your ancestral surnames that could be "split" in various records and finding aids? Fitzgerald could easily have been entered as Fitz Gerald--two separate names with Fitz as a middle name and Gerald as the last name.

There are other names for which this is a possibility as well.

01 September 2014

Non-Genealogy Items in Old Newspapers

Take some time to read those old newspapers instead of just searching for names. A recent gossip column for a newspaper in the 1870s discussed how cattle were transported to Chicago for butchering and the ease with which children on the orphan train were adopted by couples waiting at the train station.